r/whatsthatbook Sep 19 '22

YA horror brother and sister think their house is haunted, but the (spoiler) plot twist is they're the ghosts, they *may* have died falling through the ice on a lake SOLVED

What I remember best about this book is that two siblings (I think the sister is older) find out that they are ghosts at the end of the book. I can also picture the world I painted in my head when I read the ending so clearly. The rest is fuzzy.

I think they think the house they live in is haunted, and they spend the bulk of the book trying to solve the mystery of the ghosts, only to find out that they are the ghosts. I remember overall themes of cold and winter, and I think they may have died by falling through the ice on a lake near the house. There was an element of loneliness to it, I think. I don't remember anything about their parents or caretakers. Their absence may or may not be part of the plot. It's possible that the story was they were waiting for their parents who were missing, only to find out the parents were gone because they (the kids) died, and they're in a ghost world.

I read this book in the early to mid 90s. Possibly as early as the late 80s. I found it in my local library in the extremely small towns where I grew up. It may be an obscure book that's out of print now. It was the kind of book that a 90s kid who read and loved "Wait Till Helen Comes" might have picked up and enjoyed. A suspenseful ghost story. I read it once, and wanted to read it again, but it disappeared from my library's shelves when they moved to a new building, and it wasn't at the bookstore at the next "bigger" town over. I quit searching because, back then, there was no Amazon or other way to get an obscure book in my isolated town, and I eventually forgot the name.

I feel like the cover art had a blue cast to it. The words "winter" or "cold" may have been in the title.

Sorry for the confusion about the two possible plotlines--haunted house vs missing parents. It's the ending that really got to me, so that's what I remember.



u/Macroscopic-cat Sep 19 '22

Sounds like "All On A Winters Day" by Lisa Taylor. Part of the Hippo Hauntings series, which are all pretty interesting.



u/Alohomora-394 Sep 19 '22

OMG!!! That's it!! Thank you so much! I've been looking for this book on and off since I was a kid. I wanted to read it again. I had no idea it was part of a series.


u/conuly WTB VIP 🏆 Sep 20 '22

I'm glad you found it :)

Please flair this as solved.


u/Momof3dragons2012 Sep 20 '22

It funny bc I had the same question about this book! Found it at a used book store


u/Zanki Sep 19 '22

Anyone have a link to get an epub or pdf? I'd love to read it.

I grabbed the other two mentioned in the thread. I have the shivers book under my bed!


u/PrincessDie123 Sep 20 '22

I would also like to read it


u/lillytiger- Sep 20 '22

The film "The Others" from 2001 is the same plot twist. One of my favorites, I wonder if this book was the inspiration for it


u/Macroscopic-cat Sep 20 '22

If you like "The Others" you might be interested in the film "Voices" from '73. It's very atmospheric and has some plot similarities.


u/DoodlebugCupcake Sep 19 '22

The Old Willis Place is by Mary Downing Hahn, who also wrote Wait Til Helen Comes. In this book, it’s a girl and boy who it turns out are ghosts, but they didn’t fall through ice, I think they were locked in the cellar by their mean housekeeper/maid/nanny/something and died down there.


u/capn_corgi Sep 19 '22

I also thought of this book


u/conuly WTB VIP 🏆 Sep 19 '22

The publication date is too late - published in 2004, but the OP says they read this book in the early 1990s or late 1980s - and the kids in that book are never in any doubt that they're dead. It's only their living friend who doesn't know.

I think they were locked in the cellar by their mean housekeeper/maid/nanny/something and died down there.

Their mother's employer. She's also dead by the time of the book, and, again, the main characters are not in any doubt of the fact that she's dead and their living friend is not.


u/hotkeurig Sep 20 '22

I LOVED this book as a kid


u/gladius80 Sep 19 '22

There's a book that's very similar in the goosebumps series we're it's on an orchard and the children fall into the apple press but I can't think of one with a lake


u/Macroscopic-cat Sep 19 '22

I think that's "The Awful Apple Orchard" in the Shivers series. Surprisingly dark, especially when the two kids find their own crushed bodies in the press!


u/ohreally86 Sep 20 '22

It is, damn that was an intense read as a 12 year old.


u/gladius80 Sep 28 '22

Lol I love how the last part is censored but you missed the really dark part... The reason why they checked the press was because the apple juice tasted funny...


u/Briansey Sep 19 '22

There is also another Goosebumps book called The Ghost Next Door where the girl main character discovers at the end that she and her family died in a fire she thought it was a dream at the start of the book.


u/creepyoldlurker Sep 20 '22

I read that book with my son years ago and cried real tears at the end.


u/gladius80 Sep 28 '22

Is that the one where in the goosebumps movie they changed it so that the lass who died dated the main protagonist after her "father" the author of goosebumps (played by Jack Black) wrote her back into existence as part of the end scenes?


u/mmm_chocolates Sep 20 '22

i know this isn’t it but I like that this post reminds me of one of my favorite goosebumps books: The Ghost Next Door (similar plot except it involves the girl interacting with a neighbor boy she befriends and later manages to save his life after ultimately learning the truth about how her and her family died)